Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Star Wars: Leia: Princess of Alderaan. This is author Claudia Gray’s third trip to a galaxy far, far away and her second with Leia Organa. What did we think of her take on a teenage princess? To mission control for the verdict!
Bria: I started reading Leia: Princess of Alderaan while sitting on the floor of Target about half an hour before it went on sale at midnight and was about three steps from crying by page five. That should have been my second warning that reading this book was going to be rough. My first warning should have simply been that Claudia Gray was writing teenage Leia. It should surprise no one that I get emotional over Leia and doubly so when Bail and Breha are involved. The Organas may be one of the few examples of a good, loving, and stable family in Star Wars and that’s just on top of how awesome they all are. Gray explores a part of Leia’s life we haven’t seen much of before as she formally declares her intent to one day sit on Alderaan’s throne and she learns about the Rebellion. This is a Leia who isn’t quite yet the woman we see face down Tarkin on a Death Star and the book is stronger for it as we witness her journey. My only wish is that the book had been set a year or two earlier but that’s a very personal quibble. While we never leave Leia’s head, Princess of Alderaan does a fantastic job of letting us get to know not only her but other early members of the Rebellion better. While Gray doesn’t hold back any emotional punches, it’s still a very fun book especially with the introduction of the franchise’s own Luna Lovegood, Amilyn Holdo. Listen: I could go on and on about the book but honestly all you need to know is that Claudia Gray wrote it, it’s about Leia, and it’s good. So yeah: this gets a GO from me.
Nanci: Leia: Princess of Alderaan is one of the best Star Wars books I’ve read in a long time — and I have enjoyed most of the recent canon novels. I was so excited when this novel was announced because I have wanted a novel about teenage Leia for a long time, even during Legends. In L:PoA, Gray delivers on a highly-anticipated concept that fits in with all eras of Star Wars: the prequels, Rogue One, the Original Trilogy, and The Last Jedi. There are even some subtle nods to Bloodline, Gray’s previous novel in the Star Wars canon. Leia herself is written with incredible nuance, especially considering she is a sixteen year old girl with hopes, fears, and a lot of responsibilities resting on her shoulders. She feels very young and naive on one page and unbelievably mature on the next. Her relationship with her parents is incredibly well-written, and somewhat painful at times given what we know happens to Alderaan in A New Hope. Every time Leia argues with Bail, I want to smash them together and say “No! Don’t argue! Make up!” Even though we never see anything outside of Leia’s perspective, both Bail and Breha are wonderfully characterized — especially Breha, who has been woefully ignored by canon in the past. As a woman with fertility problems who is currently pursuing adoption, it felt so wonderful to see Leia’s adoptive family portrayed with such love and affection. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. No matter what parts of Star Wars you enjoy the most, you will find something here to pique your interest. Be careful, though: Gray is a feels terrorist and is not afraid to stick a knife in your heart. Especially on the final page. Leia: Princess of Alderaan gets an emphatic GO!
Amanda: If anyone but Claudia Gray had been at the helm of this novel, I’d have approached it with cautious optimism, but after her stunning, nuanced, and brilliant characterization in Bloodline, I was nothing but exited. And from the first page, Leia: Princess of Alderaan did not disappoint. There were squeals and tears in the first chapter, and that was only the beginning of a ride that would keep me up until nearly three in the morning– there was no way I was putting this book down until I’d finished. Everything from Leia’s relationships with friends and foes her own age, to her burgeoning talent for politics, to her first tastes of teenage love, and the delightful portrayal of the closeness and devotion of the Organa family was just what I had wanted to see from this book. Every moment of Leia’s development as future monarch, up-and-coming rebel, Apprentice Legislator, and compassionate human being had me reeling with joy- even when Leia’s experiences weren’t at all joy-filled.There is a depth to the relationships presented in this book that is sometimes missing from work targeted at a YA audience– a reflection, I think, of the depth of the wider Star Wars universe. Although Leia herself is the focus of this book and will forever be my favorite, the introduction of Amilyn Holdo is a breath of fresh air and has me far more excited for her appearance in The Last Jedi than anything else had gotten me to this point. I love “Space Luna”. And it’s not just her: every character we meet in Leia: Princess of Alderaan is a fully-realized being with their own agendas and motivations. Through Leia’s relationships with them and with the GFFA at large, we get a front-row seat to a royal coming-of-age. It was an enjoyable and easy read, and I give it an emphatic GO!
Flight Director’s Ruling: Leia: Princess of Alderaan is a GO for launch!